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A Perspective on Medical Nutrition Therapy in Gestational Diabetes Mellitus


Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is one of the common metabolic disorders during pregnancy, which refers to various levels of carbohydrate intolerance first discovered during pregnancy. During a normal pregnancy, beta cells undergo hyperplasia and hypertrophy to meet the metabolic demands of pregnancy. During GDM, β-cells are unable to compensate for the demands of pregnancy and insulin sensitivity is reduced, leading to hyperglycemia. GDM is not only associated with a series of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as macrosomia, stillbirth, neonatal metabolic disorders, but also may increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the mother’s later years.

Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) means to prevent and treat diseases by regulating the nutritional status of the human body through the use of food and nutrients, which is an effective intervention for the management of chronic diseases such as diabetes. Clinical studies have shown that the use of MNT in people with a diagnosis of GDM achieves the goal of maintaining glucose balance during pregnancy, improves insulin sensitivity, and reduces the risk of pregnancy complications. For an unborn fetus, MNT reduces the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) to limit oxidative damage, thereby reducing the occurrence of excessive oxidative stress and inflammation in the placenta. What is more, MNT can improve neonatal excessive birth weight, and reduce the risk of maternal metabolic disorders such as hyper-tension after childbirth. Compared with drug therapy, MNT is safer and more economical and practical because of its natural nutrient sources and has become the first choice of GDM treatment.

Recently, the Health and Functional Food Department from CAS Engineering Laboratory, Shanghai Institute of Nutrition and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences published a review article on gestational diabetes mellitus: what can medical nutrition therapy do? This article summarized the research progress of MNT in GDM. The international recommendations on the intake of various nutrients and the influence of nutrients on the prevalence of GDM were reviewed and discussed. It also discussed the improvement effect of nutritional intervention on GDM, emphasizes the interaction between nutrients rather than the influence of a single nutrient on an individual.

This work was published online in Nutrients on April 19, 2024, as a review article. This work was supported by grants from National Key R&D Program of China, National Natural Science Foundation of China, Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Major Project, Open Project Program of Metabolic Vascular Diseases Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province. This work was also supported by Sunline Deep Sea Fishery fund.

To meet the "Healthy China" initiative, the Health and Functional Food Department of CAS Engineering Laboratory is committed to provide innovative resources and technical support to promote the development of nutrition and health industry. By focusing on the development of nutritional intervention products of metabolic diseases, cardiovascular diseases, tumors and nervous system diseases, the department conducts the R&D of products and technologies, the functional evaluation and industrial services, as well as the clinical trials and promotion of nutrition intervention products.

The improvement effect of medical nutrition therapy on gestational diabetes mellitus.
 (Image by CAS Engineering Laboratory for Nutrition)  


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